Think Frazier-Ali, or Rocky vs. Apollo Creed.
When heavyweights collide, in real life or on the big screen, normally there are haymakers thrown with regularity. That's the kind of softball game Tiffin and Ashland played late Saturday (May 7) morning at the GLIAC Tournament at Saginaw Valley State.
Tiffin, the top seed in the tournament and Ashland, the second seed, both entered the game 2-0 in the tournament. The Eagles were in front, 6-3 heading into the bottom of the fourth inning. That's when Tiffin scored twice to pull within 6-5 and put the Eagles on the ropes.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Tiffin scored three more times for an 8-6 advantage.
That's the way the game ended. While that doesn't count as a knockout, the setback did stagger the Eagles.
The loss sent the Eagles (31-16) into a mid-afternoon date with Ferris State. AU is 3-0 against FSU this season, including a 5-4 win on Friday at the tournament. If Ashland can get by FSU, it will get another crack at Tiffin (38-12), which advanced to Sunday's title game.
Tiffin is 5-0 against the Eagles this season and is averaging 7.8 rpg., against them. The Dragons, ranked 23rd in the nation and second in the region, have not scored less than five runs against the Eagles this season and have piled up eight or more hits three times.
On Saturday, Tiffin shortstop Meagan Baird was 3-for-3 with three homers and six RBI. Baird had a two-run blast in the first, a solo shot in the fourth and a three-run homer in the fifth. Baird has seven round-trippers this season. The Dragons also got a homer from Tiffany Smith in the fourth inning. That was her eighth home run this season.
As the linescore shows, this was not a banner day for the starting pitchers. AU's Emlyn Knerem (Brunswick, Ohio) went 4.2 innings and allowed seven runs (four earned), on six hits. She walked two and struck out six. Knerem left the circle in favor of Logan Hursey (Zanesville, Ohio/John Glenn), who went 1.1 innings and allowed a run on two hits.
The good news for the Eagles is that they finally did some damage against Tiffin freshman Mindy Meredith. A week ago on the final weekend of the regular season, Meredith quieted the Eagles with her arm and banged them around with her bat. This time, AU got to her for six runs (three earned) on eight hits in 3.2 innings. Meredith did not walk a batter and struck out four. She did not figure in the decision. The win went to Amber Young, who pitched shutout softball for the final 3.1 innings. Young allowed one hit and retired the final eight hitters she faced.
The Eagles did receive a homer from Hursey. That was her career-best 10th of the season. Hursey drove in two runs as did shortstop Bri Woody (Cleveland, Ohio/Magnificat). Woody is 4-for-10 (.400) in the GLIAC Tournament. Leadoff hitter Lyndsey Brandt (Painesville, Ohio/Riverside) was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a RBI. The top three hitters in the lineup – Brandt, Woody and third baseman Alyssa Kelley (Mentor, Ohio) - combined for five of Ashland's nine hits.
This was not the cleanest game of the season for either team. The game had five errors – three by Tiffin and two by the Eagles.